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Thanks for the advice, and sorry I didn’t reply sooner – been on holiday.

Unfortunately it looks like I’m “back to the drawing board” now, as I discovered that the shaft I had in mind (which actually turns out to be hickory when I look more closely) is actually 6″ too short to make a tiller from. I did think about just having a shorter tiller, but it wouldn’t have reached past the aft tank, meaning no more steering downwind with the tiller between my knees!

So any suggestions of ideal timber to use, and moreover where to get it from would be gratefully received.